It is an early morning in Cape Town, the traffic jam along Landsdwone road one of Khayelitsha’s main feeder roads, stretches for kilometres as (taxis), buses and cars try to make their way into the central district where they can gainaccess to shopping centers, hospitals, municipal and government premises. I am sitting at the back of a taxi from Gugulethu to Khayelitsha and we just drove into Site C when an elderly woman signals the taxi to stop, as she was going to Khayelitsha Mall. Minutes after she got in the taxi her cellphone started ringing with the most annoying ringtone, she answers “hello nguMmacirha lo uthethayo” in venac. On the other side it is a local’s school’s principal calling her to a meeting at school urgently as her daughter was caught yesterday watching a disturbing adult video in class whilst they were attending an English revision class for the final matric exams.
Don’t ask me how I knew this because I was eavesdropping due to that terrible ring tone. Once she had welcomed the invitation, she started talking to the teenager who happened to be sitting next to her about the dangers that came with the technology and the internet, that in their time they did not have the luxury to access the internet and as a result they were not ill disciplined. This brings me to the topic of what are the benefits and disadvantages of technology and internet connectivity in our “society”
Firstly, I don’t think you can say which is greater, because in my mind I would say both aspects are equal. I do agree that there are damages that have been caused because of the internet. For one, you have cyber hackers or individuals who steal information from unsuspecting users. Usually that results in lost MONEY, or credit card fraud. Then you have issues such as online predators. Children or teens who are not aware, and parents who are not keen on online activity can become victims of horrible tragedies that happen because of sick people who prey on the innocent. Then you have pornography which has shattered marriages and created addictions. And don’t forget that the internet has become an addiction all by itself because of the array of options offered to everyone (gaming, email, social sites).
But on the other hand you have benefits. One benefit is the convenience that the internet offers. (Ordering items online, watching video, emailing/chatting). Many people like to save time on transactions so they go with what is faster. Next you have information at your fingertips. Information is something we all need. You may want to look up how to install a program on your PC, or look up health topics. Then you have tools such as online education where students attend classes online. Then you have the ability to create your own websites according to your own tastes. Many websites today were created out of one’s desire to see their interest come to life and attract others in the process. So overall I would say it’s about equal. I understand the horrors of the net, but at the same time there has been so much accomplished with it.
Personally, I think the internet has mainly benefited us. Pedophiles, hackers, phishing websites, etc are not too common. The internet has saved more lives than taken them. In fact, without the internet, the economy would be a mess. Poverty would exist throughout the entire country as most people will be disenfranchised as they would have no access to key resources such as access to information, government programs, health breakthroughs, instant news of what is going on around them . Stocks would be harder to INVEST. There would be no online orders. So, the world would be a mess without the internet.
If you look at how far Silulo Ulutho Technologies has come with bringing internet to the doorstep of previously marginalized communities the benefits outweighs the damages by a bigger margin. In Khayelitsha we started with one internet store that served a broader community of about 2.4 million population with 73% unemployment rate.
It did not take too long for the marginalized community to be integrated into the mainstream economy for personal and business usage as now they could access the internet from their own doorstep, travelling costs to internet cafe’s in town were no history, people started to learn computer skills and could do their own CV’s and apply for jobs online, they did not have to wake up to queue at government departments like SARS and Home Affairs, the folk started to understand the difference between E-learning and full time studies, numbers of Khumbulikhaya applications dropped as families can now track and contact their long lost members through social networks, matric pass rates increase as students can access online past exam resources and question papers.
Today you can make Skype calls (Video Calls) with umkhulu in Umtata just by a click of a button where as in the past you will have to travel with Blueline for days to see them or send them money now you can E-wallet all thanks to internet connectivity.
In case you are wondering what our internet cafe’s offer, here is a list of our service offering: internet connectivity, photocopies, printing in colour and black/white, design artwork (flyers, obituaries, calendars, business cards, pamphlets, posters and pull up banners), online business registrations, online accounting and bookkeeping for businesses, IT and Technical Support for mobile and PC’s as well as social media for business.